A significant turn of events a day earlier made this meeting with the governor even more critical. At Thursday’s Normandy school board meeting, the board voted to stop paying tuition for transfer students. They also decided to let 103 employees go, and close Bel Nor elementary school.
Regarding these decisions, a spokesperson of the financially strapped district states, “This unprecedented expenditure renders it virtually impossible for us to educate the 88 percent of students remaining in Normandy schools and simultaneously regain accreditation.”
The issues facing Normandy factored into the conversation between the superintendents and governor. Nixon says the transfer process needs some adjustment: “Expense challenges really need to be a lot more practical, assuming this is a tool we continue to use when there’s unaccredited schools. I also think marking progress for schools in increments that are reachable and in shorter timelines are important.”
Nixon noted that the value of transferring students out of failing districts is still up for debate, philosophically speaking. He won’t say whether the policy could ultimately be overturned, but no matter what ultimately happens, the governor hopes the focus will remain on achieving accreditation in each and every school district.
Nixon explains, “I believe that the schools that operate the best are the ones tied closely to their communities, in which parents and community activists have a direct involvement in their schools.”
In the meantime, Normandy has asked the state for $6.8 million dollars of additional funding to offset the student transfer costs. Nixon says that request won’t be considered, at least, until next month.